Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel could certainly have handled the police shooting of Laquan McDonald better. If there was ever a time to reach a historic moment, to put past politics aside in City Hall and be much more transparent, the McDonald’s murder was precisely that time.
But, as former Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson said in a letter to Senate Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Bob Menendez, DN.J., Emanuel did not orchestrate a cover-up of the shooting of McDonald by now convicted cop Jason Van Dyke .
This assumption was repeated so many times that it was accepted as the truth by many quarters. But there are no facts to support that.
Two months ago, when Emanuel’s appointment as ambassador to Japan was passing through Congress, MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., said in a statement, “As Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel helped kill Laquan McDonald.”
That is a false story. The Chicago police’s handling of the McDonald case has been criticized for good reason, but there is no evidence that their actions were directed under any city hall plan. Emanuel’s Legal Department did not release the police dashcam video of the shooting as soon as possible, but followed policies that should not interfere with ongoing criminal investigations. It was not involved in a newly formed conspiracy. As a city, we have to accept this reality.
Emanuel’s strict accusation also makes it easier to overlook systemic issues within the CPD. As Jamie Kalven, co-producer of “16 Shots,” a documentary about the McDonald’s shooting, says getting the facts right is important for “historical record and diagnostic clarity.”
“I think the danger is that if we only focus on cream, like Nixon and Watergate, we will misdiagnose what we are struggling with,” he said.
The McDonald tragedy started police reform in Chicago. Emanuel is no longer mayor, but reforms are just as important today as they were under his government.
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